Written by: Rachel Ornstein Packer
Illustrated by: Deborah Zemke
For ages: 4 years and up
Language: English and some Hebrew
Topics Covered: Judaism, Community, Holidays, Jewish Culture and Traditions, Friendship.
Summary: Leah has no place to build her Sukkah since they live in an apartment building. Ari is her best friend, and his parents don’t have any money for a sukkah. Luckily at Hebrew school, there is a poster contest and the prize is a real sukkah! Ari wins, and is so excited to tell his parents. Unfortunately, they say they can’t accept it because there is no storage space in their apartment but then Leah comes up with a plan that involves the whole community!
The neighborhood bands together to carry the pieces and cook food for everyone to enjoy, even the grocer on the corner surprises them with greenery and fruits for decorations! This book is an introduction to the community spirit of Sukkot, as well as camaraderie. Leah is not a passive observer. Rather, she provides the critical thinking it takes to solve problems and is an active doer when there are so many examples in other stories of female characters being passive. This book could be improved with a Hebrew glossary, but overall is a cute and fun story featuring a strong girl role model!
About the Author & the Illustrator:
Rachel Ornstein Packer wasn’t always a writer. In fact, when she was in college, Rachel wanted to be a dancer. When Rachel got older, she became a social worker because she wanted to help her community. After Rachel had children, (their names are Leah and Ari-not a coincidence) she started writing. At first, she would write about food allergies because Ari was allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and eggs. Rachel wrote many articles for newspapers, magazines, and blogs, mostly about recipes for families with allergies. However, Rachel always had a dream about writing my own children’s book. In fact, Sky High Sukkah didn’t start out with that title. It changed FOUR times! It took a long time to find the right home for her book and Rachel is so glad that she had persistence because here she is-FINALLY.
Deborah Zemke has illustrated over forty books! Deborah has also written eight books. Some are made with gouache paint on paper, and some are made with digital pixels. All are made with enthusiasm. If you’ve ever wondered how to draw a quokka, you can find out in the book, Doodle A Zoodle . Frogs are another favorite critter for her to draw. See one frog’s story in this Critter Crackup for Ranger Rick magazine. Deborah likes the alphabet! Here are some of her favorite letters. Some of the publishers that Deborah has worked with include Dial Books for Young Readers, Creston Books, Blue Apple Books, Ranger Rick magazine, Dutton Children’s Books, Grosset & Dunlap, Handprint Books, Houghton Mifflin, Andrews McMeel, National Wildlife Federation, Scholastic/Children’s Press, Sterling Publishing, and Workman Publishing.